NaPoWriMo Poem #28: Letter to My Father

Dear Dad: have you ever seen the
burning blade, the straight edge of a knife’s
tongue? From this, we are branded with bruises. This silence,
this tradition of disguise, is a generational curse,
a baton passed from Grandma to you to
me – and I am still running.

Look at us, Dad. We are made
in digital. I have an older sister that looks like
a broken computer, and another one that looks like
a robot. And you – you look like Data, pieced together with
mud-colored skin, hair like black fizz, and a positronic brain
second to none – but you’re different. You’d
tell Picard how to captain his ship. Send Geordi out of the room
while you rebuild the engine of the USS Enterprise out of
old Toyota and Mazda parts. You’d find a way
to make that mutha run on dilithium, even trilithum. The
best engineers in the galaxy would cream themselves
with envy.

But I am paper. An android made out of
the deaths of trees, flattened and bleached. My digital parts
are all up inside my head. You must have known: didn’t you ever notice
how my corners would rip when you’d raise the volume of
your voice? But inside, I am
glass. The thing that beats inside of me
is made out of melted sand. I can feel its fractures
when I breathe.

Why do I burn? I am a paper bird. The truth of our
mis-wired brains is a firebrand that I clutch inside my beak
as I fly — maybe that explains why
I leave a trail of ash behind me as I walk. But my
feathers turned black long ago after I tried to hang
the sun, the moon, and the stars inside every house
that we ever lived in. Do you remember,
Dad? They hung and blazed inside my smile, inside
my scattered Saturday mornings of watercolors and Bob Ross, inside
the piles of books inside my bedroom, inside our trips
to the park where all we needed was lilac blossom, sunshine,
and our hands locked together like transport. But one day,
the stars crumbled, the sun burnt himself inside out and died, and
the moon stopped speaking and disappeared inside
a black hole.

Tell me, how long did we eat our young? The truth is,
we are all glass inside. This is not your fault, Dad; this is
something we learn, something we do as a family. We
tribe of aliens, we Hebrews on Egyptian soil, we of the shattered heart
who will not even dare speak of what makes us strange. I am
just as green and extraterrestrial as
you are, as Grandma was, as those two other sisters
are. But I would like to leave Saturn and live among the natives
in full spectrum color. I have been inside him
for too long.

Written 4/29/10
© 2010 Nicole Nicholson. All Rights Reserved.
This poem is #28 for NaPoWriMo 2010. It was inspired by NaPoWriMo Prompt #28: Intuition over at Read Write Poem. I didn’t follow the prompt exactly, but I did let a few things lead me to today’s poem: 1) the epiphany a few weeks ago that likely, my dad may have had Asperger Syndrome (it has been suggested that the occurrence of autism spectrum disorders has a strong genetic component), 2) some of my friends’ Facebook updates (I stole some phrases out of them), and 3) the conversational style in which author and former member of The Doors John Densmore uses in his book Riders on the Storm (and his tendency to write the deceased Jim Morrison letters). So I wrote my father a letter, in a poem.



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About ravenswingpoetry

I am a 38 year old writer from Columbus, OH and the creator of Raven's Wing Poetry. I am a poet, seeker, fellow traveler, and autistic.
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9 Responses to NaPoWriMo Poem #28: Letter to My Father

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  6. Thomas Davis says:

    This is an unbelievably powerful poem, drawing from real life and creating a work of redemption, memories, and meaning.

  7. Hello Thomas:

    Thank you for stopping by.

    Redemption, memories, and meaning: that’s exactly the thing I was trying to capture with this poem. When my parents split up, I was 11 years old, and I never saw or spoke to him again. Through my adolescence, I ended up collecting questions I wanted to ask him to find out his side of the story — but he died before my seventeenth birthday. So basically, those questions remain unanswered. This poem was my attempt at closer and stating a truth about our family, a truth that I am not sure my other siblings recognize: we were all attempting to “pretend to be normal”.


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  9. Misky says:

    There’s so much to recognise in this that it makes me shudder. Very powerful. I’m glad that you led me here to read your letter. Thanks.

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